Half a century ago, Belgian Zoologist Bernard Heuvelmans first codified cryptozoology in his book On the Track of Unknown Animals.

The Centre for Fortean Zoology (CFZ) are still on the track, and have been since 1992. But as if chasing unknown animals wasn't enough, we are involved in education, conservation, and good old-fashioned natural history! We already have three journals, the largest cryptozoological publishing house in the world, CFZtv, and the largest cryptozoological conference in the English-speaking world, but in January 2009 someone suggested that we started a daily online magazine! The CFZ bloggo is a collaborative effort by a coalition of members, friends, and supporters of the CFZ, and covers all the subjects with which we deal, with a smattering of music, high strangeness and surreal humour to make up the mix.

It is edited by CFZ Director Jon Downes, and subbed by the lovely Lizzy Bitakara'mire (formerly Clancy), scourge of improper syntax. The daily newsblog is edited by Corinna Downes, head administratrix of the CFZ, and the indexing is done by Lee Canty and Kathy Imbriani. There is regular news from the CFZ Mystery Cat study group, and regular fortean bird news from 'The Watcher of the Skies'. Regular bloggers include Dr Karl Shuker, Dale Drinnon, Richard Muirhead and Richard Freeman.The CFZ bloggo is updated daily, and there's nothing quite like it anywhere else. Come and join us...

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Sunday, March 15, 2009


Beth from Hartland Wildlife Rescue sent us this, and it has to be the most ridiculously cute thing that we have seen in ages.

It got me and Richard talking baby talk for several minutes. I assume that it is one of the African species, but I don't really care. It has the aaaaah factor.

On a similar, though totally unrelated track, our hearty congratulations have to go to our old friend Darren Naish over on TetZoo for This Post which has to be the most ridiculous thing that we have ever seen him do. Well done dear boy, we didn't know that you had it in you!


Alan Friswell's account of the monster in the Red Sea that his brother-in-law Alfie encountered back in the 1960s, attracted a lot of interest. So we wrote to him asking if there were any more details? He replied:

My sister remembers the sighting, and mentioned that he said that the head was "a lot bigger than a cow". Alfie said that the animal was a dark green or blue--it was difficult to see in the dark--but when it went through the torchlight it was a very dark colour.

The head was scaly--Alfie said that it looked like a giant snake or lizard--with thick scales around the mouth like a snake. He said that the neck was about two feet thick where it joined the head, and at least three feet at the waterline. He said that as it went through the torch beam he could see giant muscles standing out. He reckoned that if it had got it's head under the boat, it could have thrown them straight up in the air.

Alfie thought that what saved them was that they had brought a large box of ice with them--as he always did--to keep the fish cool in the blazing heat--even at night, it was amazingly hot, and without doing this the fish would have gone off in minutes--and this also served the dual purpose of keeping the beers cold as well as the fish.

Once the fish had been gutted, it was buried completely under the ice, and this might have disguised the smell from the creature. I could try to draw the animal form Alfie's description if you like, but he always maintained that the plesiosaur from The Land That Time Forgot was pretty much spot-on.

GUEST BLOGGER NEIL ARNOLD: From the Mountains to the Fountains.

It is with great pleasure that we welcome Neil Arnold to the CFZ bloggo with this first guest blog. I have known Neil for fifteen years now since he was a schoolboy with ambitions for adventure and I was an earnest young hippie who merely wanted to start a club for people interested in unknown animals. Nothing much has changed over the years. We are just both a tad older...

I have read with intrigue the musing of author Frank Buckland. In his 19th century book Curiosities of Natural History he tells a fascinating little tale pertaining to London, and it’s many water fountains dotted around the West End.

Buckland, in the chapter Fish and Fishing, from the first series volume, speaks of how goldfish, once confined to a lake near Tsientsing mountain in China, originally made their way England, and also how such fish ended up in fountains around London.

He states, “They were first brought to Europe in the seventeenth century, and continued very rare in England till the year 1728…”

Buckland adds: “When they were cleaning out the basins of the fountains at Charing Cross (London), I asked the foremen if he ever found any fish at the bottom, when the water had been drawn off. He told me that sometimes goldfish were found, and that he imagined they got there out of the glass globes of the men who go about the streets selling goldfish, and who come to Charing Cross fountains to change the water.”

It was believed by the foreman that these fish might have escaped, especially when these fragile bowls often cracked, when being knocked against the basin. However, Buckland also goes on to speak of eels being found in these basins, and believes he may well have had something to do with such finds. He says, “Some four years ago, I bought in Hungerford market a quantity of small eels, and taking them home, placed them in a large tub; but they did not thrive, so I tied them up in a handkerchief, and transferred them to the Charing Cross basins. I heard no more of them till a friend told me of a paragraph he had seen in a newspaper, stating that some good-sized eels had been found in the basins at Charing Cross; and that the newspaper correspondent accounted for their presence by supposing, ‘…that they had escaped from the fish-mongers shops at Hungerford market, and had gone to the nearest water by instinct’.

This of course seems unlikely as the nearest water would most certainly have been the more accessible Thames, and Buckland argues, “..imagine an eel escaping from a fishmongers, crossing over the crowded Strand, and climbing up the sides of the stone basins to get into the water. I know that eels will travel from place to place; but I much doubt their ever taking such a journey as attributed to them by the newspaper correspondent, who needed not to have resorted to such an ingenious, but impossible theory, had he seen me put the eels into the basins some months before.”


Whilst moseying through the CFZ archives looking for the photographs of albino birds which we posted the other day we found this - a case of huias from Kendal Museum.

The huia was an exquisite bird found only in New Zealand with black glossy feathers and orange wattles. Their beaks were sexually dimorphic, the males having stout beaks and the females curved ones. The males used their beaks to chisel into wood in search of insects whilst the female used hers to winkle out prey.

The Maori hunted the huia for it’s feathers but white settlers hunted it on mass as well as introducing predators and cutting down the forests were he bird lived and fed. It is thought to have died out in the early 20th century.

However throughout the 1920s there were continued sightings that suggests the bird may have survived.

On October 12th 1961 Margaret Hutchinson saw a huia at Lake Waikareti in the Urewera State Forest. More recently the CFZ’s Danish representative Dr Lars Thomas saw a huia in the Pureora Forest.

RICHARD FREEMAN: Other historical accounts of "The Devil's Fooptprints"


Though the 1855 case in Devon is the best known phenomena akin to the Devil’s Foot prints are known from other places and times.

Ralph of Coggeshall, was a monk then abbot as well as proto-Fortean who recorded all manner of odd occurrences in the 13th century (including the Merman of Orford Ness). He tells us that on June 19th of 1205 a hoof print appeared in the earth after a violent electrical storm.

The Times of March 14th 1840 reports…

Among the high mountains of that elevated district where Glenorchy, Glenlyon and Glenochay are contiguous, there have been met with several times, during this and also the former winter, upon the snow, the tracks of an animal seemingly unknown at present in Scotland. The print, in every respect, is an exact resemblance to that of a foal of considerable size, with this small difference, perhaps, that the sole seems a little longer, or not so round; but as no one has had the good fortune as yet to have obtained a glimpse of this creature, nothing more can be said of its shape or dimensions; only it has been remarked, from the depth to which the feet sank in the snow, that it must be a beast of considerable size. It has been observed also that its walk is not like that of the generality of quadrupeds, but that it is more like the bounding or leaping of a horse when scared or pursued. It is not in one locality that its tracks have been met with, but through a range of at least twelve miles.

Commander Rupert T, Gould, another early Fortean who wrote books on the Loch Ness Monster and sea serpents also unearthed an account from Kerguelen Island in the sub-Antartic. The original account was written up in May 1840, by Captain Sir James Clarke Ross, when his ships, the Erebus and Terror, were lying off Kerguelen.

'Of land animals we saw none; and the only traces we could discover of there being any on this island were the singular foot-steps of a pony or ass, found by the party detached for surveying purposes, under the command of Lieutenant Bird, and described by Doctor Robertson as "being three inches in length and two and a half in breadth, having a small and deeper depression on each side, and shaped like a horseshoe".

Both the following reports come from Charles Fort’s Book of the Damned.

In the Illustrated London News, March 17, 1855, a correspondent from Heidelberg wrote, "upon the authority of a Polish Doctor in Medicine," that on the Piaskowa-góra (Sand Hill) a small elevation on the border of Galicia, but in Russian Poland, such marks are to be seen in the snow every year, and sometimes in the sand of this hill, and "are attributed by the inhabitants to supernatural influences."

There have been many incidents of strange footprints with cloven hoofs appearing without an obvious cause. Most occur during or after a fierce electrical storm. Some of these are linked to the legend of Kui found in the Shanhaijing. This is a 2000 year old book recording the culture and geography of China prior to the Qin Dynasty (221-207 BC) The Shanhaijing say the Kui is a mythical monster with one leg like cloven hoof that looks kind of like a cow, except with one foot. Fierce electrical storms heralded its presence.

The Daoist Zhuangzi, who lived c. 3rd-2nd BC, mentions Kui in two chapters of the book "Autumn Floods" in which he describes Kui as a one-legged creature.

The K'uei envies the millipede, the millipede envies the snake, the snake envies the wind, the wind envies the eye, and the eye envies the mind. The K'uei said to the millipede, "I have this one leg that I hop along on, though I make little progress. Now how in the world do you manage to work all those ten thousand legs of yours?" The millipede said, "You don't understand. Haven't you ever watched a man spit? He just gives a hawk and out it comes, some drops as big as pearls, some as fine as mist, raining down in a jumble of countless particles. Now all I do is put in motion the heavenly mechanism in me ‑ I'm not aware of how the thing works."

The Jersey Devil is reputed to be a horse-headed ,bat-winged, fork-tailed horror with cloven hooves. It has supposedly terrorized the Pine Barrens of New Jersy since colonial times. The most intense flap of sightings came in January 1909 when thousands of reports of a winged monster in no less than thirty towns. In Burlington the creature left hoofprints on the rooftops and back yards in a manner akin to the Devon case of 1855. Whatever made he tracks seem to have an intrest in rubbish bins suggesting it was some kind of animal searching for food.

The residence of nearby Bristol also found hoofprints in the snow after the Post Master saw a huge bird like beast and awful screams were heard. Two local trackers said that they had never seen anything like them. Later the tracks turned up at Camden and Riverside. In Trenton, Councilman E.P. Weeden heard the flapping of wings and then found hoof prints outside his door. The prints were also found at the arsenal in Trenton. As the day wore on the Trolleys in Trenton and New Brunswick had armed drivers to ward off attacks.

It has been suggested that the Jersey Devil flap of 1909 was a newspaper hoax. If it was then it was a remarkably well-organized and far-reaching one.

On January 10th 1945 weird tracks were found in the snow in Belgium. Eric Frank Russell wrote the following in issue 15 of Doubt the magazine of the now defunct Fortean Society.

(The prints) were spotted on a snow-covered hill behind the Chateau de Morveau, near Everberg, part-way between Brussels and Louvain, Belgium, at 10 a.m on January 10th 1945. The snow varied from two to four feet in depth and I traced the prints for half a mile in a north-westerly direction until they entered a tiny wood or copse, where abruptly they disappeared A thorough search of the copse revealed no hole, lair or tree where anything might have concealed itself with-out leaving some evidence in the snow. I then traced the prints in the opposite direction, south-easterly, for nearly two miles, crossing several fields and a small stream, until they faded out on a hillside thick with windblown snow which had drifted over the prints for an unknown distance. But the sign did not reappear on the crest of the bill, nor was there any indication on the opposite sheltered side.

The prints measured about two and a half inches in length by one and a half wide, were spaced in pairs one behind the other to form a single file. the distance between prints of one pair being about nine inches, and between pairs twelve to fifteen inches. (This means they were not regularly spaced print by print, but alternated in nine and twelve-fifteen inch gaps.) They ran in a dead straight line, one print immediately behind the other without slightest misplacement to left or right. Judging by their depth whatever made them was at least the weight of a good medium-sized creature such as an Airedale.

Due to heavy frost and lack of further snow, the prints remained visible for two days, during which time I drew the attention of several people to them, including one Arthur Davies of Sheffield, and Victor Beha of London, as well as some local Belgians. Unfortunately all were singularly lacking in curiosity, Beha jesting that they must have been made by a gyroscopic rat - probably as good a guess as that of any dogmatic expert.

The Belgians could not think what they might be, never having seen the like before. Three cameras were available, all empty, and not a film to be got for love or money, otherwise I could have recorded this phenomenon for all time.

The tracks looked to me somewhat like those of a large goat, and there were goats aplenty in that part of Belgium, but goats don't step leaving single-line spoor.

Unfortunately, the prints were not as dramatic as the ones seen in Devon - they didn't run for miles and they didn't traverse rooftops.'


So sorry you are sick, and I hate to add to your list of emails, but you asked once for a link to the claim that one of these blue dogs sucked blood, and here it is: "What tipped Canion to the possibility that this was no ugly coyote, but perhaps the vampirelike beast, is that the chickens weren’t eaten or carried off — all the blood was drained from them, she said."


Of course, she could be lying, but here it is, nonetheless. Also, this link http://www.absoluteastronomy.com/topics/Chupacabra and this link http://blogcritics.org/archives/2005/08/25/234533.php says the the DNA tests showed a coyote with mange.

Feel better!! I'm sick too :(

Stupid cold.


GRAHAM INGLIS: My Sunday afternoon blogg-oh-trawl

Aftermath of the Woolsery Footprints

Tracks in the snow have been in the news recently - even on a news site in India, which got a bit confused between the historical event and last week’s event: “The first footprints were recorded in 1855 by Jill Wade, a pensioner who found the hoof-like marks in the snow in her back garden in Woolsery.” (http://living.oneindia.in/insync/2009/devils-footprints-140309.html)

Dragging myself away from other snowy themes such as Max Blake’s footprints-in-the-snow quiz on his blog


I took a trawl around some of the other science blogs on the Internet.

Careful what you drink

Researchers in Frankfurt, Germany, have just reported evidence suggesting that estrogen-mimicking chemicals can leach out of certain plastic bottles.


The write-up says that mineral water dispensed in some glass bottles may also contain such hormonelike pollution — and not because it leached out of the glass, but because it was polluted prior to bottling:

“Several scientists now suspect one source might be the plumbing used to move water from natural reservoirs to — and/or through — processing equipment in a bottling plant.”


A detailed study of desert ants indicates they mainly rely on their sense of smell in navigational matters. Desert ants (Cataglyphis fortis) use olfactory landmarks to pinpoint the nest, reports the Frontiers in Zoology site


Fast batteries could be hot stuff

On the wider science front, something that might please us all is the prospect of batteries that can charge in seconds rather than hours. Surprising to find a piece like this in “Nature” rather than a physics journal….

“Two researchers have developed battery cells that can charge up in less time than it takes to read the first two sentences of this article. The work could eventually produce ultra-fast power packs for everything from laptop computers to electric vehicles.”


However, some blogs are challenging the idea. Lewis Page

(http://www.theregister.co.uk/2009/03/12/fast_charge_battery_bubble_stab/) says the technology’s only proven for rapid discharge and if it were implemented for charging then it could melt your phone. Ah. That’s a heavy price to pay for a 10-second recharge.

And finally…

Kevin Doxstater’s “Scienc-y Saturday” is an interesting round-up of some of the week’s events. He says, “Rest assured that, being the opinionated sort of person I am, I'll pontificate a little (sometimes maybe a lot) when I feel it is necessary, but support my position with links so you can view the facts and judge for yourself.”


This time out, he looks at (but not through) NASA’s Kepler telescope, and the politics of President Obama’s lifting of the restriction on use of US federal funds for embryonic stem cell research. And fulminates on the ignorance of the general populus, as demonstrated by a recent poll that indicates 47% of Americans don’t know it takes the Earth one year to go around the sun. I suspect the UK wouldn’t fare much better.

FROM THE ARCHIVES: One of the few bona fide English wildcats

A few weeks ago Richard Holland wrote a bloggo about wildcats The UK's wildcat subspecies Felis sylvestris grampia or the Scottish wildcat was not actually described officially until after it had already been persecuted to extinction in England and Wales. Therefore the exact identity of the English and Welsh wildcats is unknown. This specimen from the Kendal Museum was shot in the mid 19th Century and is one opf the few bona fide English specimens in existence...

OLL LEWIS: Yesterday's News Today


Do you like football? Do you like the celebrity tv show ‘dancing on ice’? If no then you’ll love the CFZ news blog as it contains neither. Time for an update:

Project to trace 'extinct' lions
No leads in bizarre animal killings
Seven tigers die under mysterious circumstances in west Nepal
The lion who lived in our flat: The incredible story of the flatmates who raised a cub
If you didn’t know better you’d swear the guys in the last story were ‘lion’.